Sixty years after having won the Critics’ Award at the Festival, Chronique d’un été* (Chronicle of a Summer) is back in Cannes Classics. In 1961, this film made by the sociologist Edgar Morin and a director with a passion for ethnology, Jean Rouch, inaugurated the genre of cinéma-vérité..
“How do you live? Are you happy?” Two questions and a lightweight and free camera wander through Paris in the 1960s. This camera gradually weaves the improvised portrait of people living in the capital, ordinary people, witnesses to their era. Marceline and her childhood in concentration camps, Landry recounting his painful arrival in France, their work, their beliefs, their daily lives; it is all there. Whether alone or in groups, at home or on a café terrace, ten people go along with Edgar Morin’s and Jean Rouch’s game of cinéma-vérité.
At the time, Chronicle of a Summer appeared as a sociological and also a technological achievement. Passers-by are freely given the opportunity to speak their minds, thanks to a remarkable lightening up of the technical equipment, in particular a light-weight camera and a Nagra that enabled the filmmakers to capture the image synchronically with the sound, which until that time required heavy equipment that was very difficult to use for this kind of documentary style. The lightness of the material made it possible to get up close to the people being filmed, which enhances their direct testimonials.
Chronicle of a Summer will be screened at 6 p.m. with Edgar Morin in attendance, Salle Buñuel.,
* version restored by the Bologne Cinémathèque.